The not-for-profit company Mars One began accepting applications from astronaut hopefuls in April 2013. According to a press release issued by the company on May 7, more than 78,000 people applied to the astronaut selection program in the first two weeks of the nineteen week application process. People from more than 120 countries have applied. And as the Daily Galaxy reports, “Most applications so far have come from the U.S. (17324), followed by China (10241), United Kingdom (3581), Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina and India.”
Although the reported 78,000 applications sounds impressive, it is technically an overstatement at this point. The application process requires applicants to pay a fee and upload a video expressing why he or she wants to go to Mars permanently. NewSpace Journal recently interviewed Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp and asked him about the 78,000 figure. Lansdorp explained that, in the application process, “People register, they pay, they start filling out their information, they have the movie to make, the movie to upload.” Lansdorp then clarified that the 78,000 figure represents the number of people who have “at least done the first step.”
Mars One plans to establish the first colony on Mars in 2023. And searching for life on Mars will be part of the research these colonists will conduct.
Mars One will continue to accept applications until August 31, 2013. The applicants will be reviewed and narrowed down to 50-100 candidates. The company explains that “four rounds make the selection process, which will come to an end in 2015; Mars One will then employ 28-40 candidates, who will train for around 7 years. Finally an audience vote will elect one of groups in training to be the envoys of humanity to Mars.”